Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE is refusing to testify twice before the House panel investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. government compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Clinton is willing to testify once before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, but her attorney says she will not meet the panel’s demand to come before it twice. He also criticized the panel for asking Clinton to appear once just to examine her use of a private email account while secretary of State.
“Respectfully, there is no basis, logic, or precedent for such an unusual request,” David Kendall said Monday in a letter to Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.), the select committee’s chairman.
“The secretary is fully prepared to stay for the duration of the committee’s questions on the day she appears,” he adds.
The document is a response to a summons Gowdy made late last month.
In an April 23 letter to Kendall, Gowdy asked that the 2016 presidential contender testify before the committee first during the week of May 18. This appearance was to examine her use of a personal email server while acting as the nation’s top diplomat.
The letter also asked Clinton to appear a second time in June so the committee could look at her role in the episode, which left four Americans dead.
Kendall agreed the week of May 18 could work for Clinton’s appearance, but said she would not “prolong the Committee’s efforts further by appearing on two separate occasion when one will suffice.”
He dismissed Gowdy’s arguments for a hearing on Clinton’s use of a personal email, saying the GOP lawmaker “can be assured that the State Department has a complete set” of the more than 30,000 emails that “were in Secretary Clinton’s possession related or potentially related to her work as Secretary of State.”
He noted that 300 messages relevant to the 2012 attacks have been given to the select committee and that Clinton’s testimony “would be of no assistance regarding the State Department’s production in response to the Committee’s requests.”
Kendall said that Clinton has testified for “more than five hours” before the House and Senate panels that have investigated the incident.
He said Clinton “remains ready to address whatever additional questions the Committee may have, and believes that the members of the Committee are able to decide how much they will focus on the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, including what can be done to keep those who serve our country safe — and how much they will focus on how she e-mailed.”
A panel spokesman said the select committee would take Kendall’s letter “into consideration” and that Gowdy would “issue a statement on behalf of the Committee regarding the path forward.”
“The committee has consistently shown it is interested in getting the facts and doing so in a deliberate and diligent manner. As a result of the Benghazi Committee’s efforts, the American people now know about Secretary Clinton’s unusual email arrangement with herself, something that would not be known had the committee rushed to call the former secretary in November as Committee Democrats pushed,” spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement.
Kendall’s letter marks the latest step in the haggling between Clinton’s camp and the committee over having her appear.
In January, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel’s top Democrat, said she had signaled late last year that she would be willing to testify on the Benghazi attacks.
However, the revelation that she used a personal email server while working at the State Department complicated matters, prompting Gowdy to say Clinton would have to appear twice. He initially insisted the first session, to address the email controversy, take place behind close doors, followed by an open hearing on the 2012 assault.
Kendall pushed back, writing in an April 22 letter that there was “no reason to delay her appearance or to have her testify in a private interview.”
Gowdy then said in his April 23 response that both hearings could be held in public.
But Monday’s letter makes it clear that Clinton doesn’t want a hearing focused exclusively on her email, nor does she want to drag the process out in two hearings held potentially weeks apart.
Cummings welcomed the latest development, saying Gowdy “should take yes for an answer and finally schedule the hearing.”
“Dragging out this process further into the presidential election season sacrifices any chance that the American people will see it as serious or legitimate,” Cummings said in a statement. “After nearly a year, we have still found not a scrap of evidence to support claims Secretary Clinton ordered a stand-down, approved an illicit weapons program, or any of the other wild allegations that Republicans have been making about her for years.”
Updated at 8:46 p.m.